Asharum Minal Fitrah- 10 Natural Characteristics of Humans
Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said:
“Ten practices are from the nature of humans,
1. Trimming the moustache,
2. Lengthening the beard,
3. Using a miswak,
4. Passing water into and cleaning the nose,
5. Clipping the nails,
6. Cleaning the finger joints,
7. Removal of underarm hair,
8. Removal of pubic hair,
9. Istinja – cleaning the private areas
10. Gargling the mouth.”
Allah Ta’ala has ordained a balanced, moderate and practical way of life for Muslims. Islam promotes a pure and good life.
There are ten chief characteristics ordained by Allah Ta’ala for purity that are frrom fitrah (intrinsic nature of man). Every human is naturally inclined to practice on these characteristics for his well-being and hygiene. The word fitrah can also mean the way of the Ambiya u.
In some narrations circumcision is also mentioned as a special characteristic.
These ten traits that belong to the realm of purity and cleanliness have been attributed to Hazrat Ibrahim u, the progenitor of Al-Millatul Haneefiyya (the way of those who devote themselves totally to Allah Ta’ala). Hence these traits are generally found in all those who follow the creed of Ibrahim u and have been observed by Muslims for centuries.
These articles of purity distinguish Muslims from others and help maintain good hygiene if practiced in the prescribed manner.
(Adapted from Hujjatullahil Baligah)
Due to their importance these practices have been given juristic importance - guidelines are briefly discussed here:
• Trimming the moustache: The moustache should not be allowed to grow over the upper lip. It is preferable to trim the moustache completely. It is also permissible to keep it to a length that does not grow beyond the upper lip. To trim on a Friday when one prepares for the Jumuah Salah is sunnah. (Jamul Wasail)
• Lengthening the beard: It is wajib (compulsory) to grow a beard to at least a fist length. It is permissible to trim the beard when it exceeds a fist length. (Raddul Muhtar). Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) has ordained in the Hadith, “Lengthen the beard and trim the moustache.” (Bukhari)
Hence, it is not permissible to shave or cut the beard to a length shorter than a fist. The beard must be maintained neatly.
• Miswak: Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) said, “Had it not been for the fact that I would over burden my Ummah, I would have instructed them to use the miswak for every wuzu.”
There are many occasions when it is sunnah to use the miswak, viz. Before sleeping, when awakening, when entering the home etc. There are also many health benefits for using the miswak.
• Placing water into and rinsing the nose: This practice is Sunnah in wuzu and fardh (compulsory) in ghusl. Water should be inserted into the nose with the right hand till the soft portion of the nose and both nostrils should be cleaned simultaneously with the thumb and small finger of the left hand.
• Clipping the nails: There is no prescribed Sunnah method of clipping the nails. Some scholars have recommended that one starts clipping from the index finger of the right hand to the small finger and then the thumb. Thereafter, from the index finger of the left hand to the baby finger and completing with the thumb. The recommended sequence for clipping the toes is to commence clipping from the small toe of the right foot to the small toe of the left foot. (Mirqatul Mafatih)
The nails should be clipped every two weeks, preferably on a Friday before Jumuah and should not be left for more than 40 days as is stated in the Hadith. (Sahih Muslim)
Clipping of hand and feet nails is an essential part of hygiene. Lengthening the nails causes dirt and bacteria to accumulate beneath them that cause a health hazard. There is a potential to cause injury to oneself and others with long or sharp nails.
• Washing the finger joints: The finger joints are areas where dirt generally accumulates and to clean them thoroughly is essential. Generally, this rule applies to all places where dirt accumulates. (Durrul Mandood)
• Removing underarm hair: This is an integral part of cleanliness. Unwanted hair should be removed every week, or fortnight, preferably on Friday. It should not be allowed to remain for more than 40 days as stated in the Hadith. (Sahih Muslim)
Allowing hair to accumulate in these areas causes discomfort and odour to be emitted. Hence, by removing these hairs regularly, a person feels clean and comfortable.
• Removal of pubic hair: The same laws that apply to the hair of the armpits apply to the hair of the pubic region. This includes hair that grows around the private areas.
• Isitinja: This refers to removing impurities and washing the private areas after relieving oneself. Neglecting the purity of these areas may affect the validity of a person’s Salah.
In the past, clods of sand were used with water for istinja. In our times toilet paper may be used with water to substitute clods of clay.
• Gargling the mouth: Entails passing water to the back part of the mouth. This is part of oral hygiene and helps to remove odours and loose particles of food from the mouth.
Some narrations mention circumcision to be amongst these ten aspects. Generally, the foreskin hinders purification and cleanliness by allowing secretions to accumulate beneath it that may result in illnesses and diseases.
Hence, this is an emphasised sunnah and also forms part of basic hygiene.
May Allah Ta’ala imbue us with the correct understanding and ability to practice.